Dating is a pretty shallow affair at the best of times. At the worst of times - also known as 'online dating' - it can be borderline sociopathic. Never will you ever be so aware of every facet of your appearance as when you try online dating. One woman told me to stop messaging her because I had arms that were too thin.
It's kind of what the internet was made for, I guess. That kind of ability to boil everything down to its most base attributes. You like dating? Great. Now choose who you would like to date based on looking at a small photo of their face for five seconds.
One time on OkCupid I tried to address mounting allegations that I was nothing but some sort of empty sexist by stipulating that I had literally no preferences when it came to my results. What you think you're doing is helping to buck the inbuilt misogyny apparently inherent in man's online interaction but what you're really doing is unleashing a swathe of desperate housewives who prove that, by and large, ugly people are just as boring as pretty ones. So why not? Why shouldn't I go through a vigorous-yet-remarkably-instantaneous check-list of 'what I'm aesthetically into' like some kind of sexy Terminator intent on murdering my own singledom? Besides, there's always the fact that choosing a set of preferences MASSIVELY cuts down the number of results which would obviously mean more chance of meeting Mrs. Right, right? Trouble is that, despite all that time you save searching, you end up feeling a bit dead inside. A feeling which has only been exacerbated by the ascendance of Tinder.
Tinder has been spreading like wildfire amongst what appears to be a decidedly Sloane-y set and is now starting to spread out of the W-postcodes like the titular disease from The Andromedia Strain (only with 100% more honeyed 'rahs'). Who would have thought that a glorified game of 'Hot or Not' would prove so popular?
Upon syncing the app with your Facebook you are set upon by a feeling of instant dread. You worked so hard to keep on Facebook terms with your ex but all that good grovel-work will be instantly undone if this bloody app starts shouting poorly formatted statuses about the fact that you're so lonely/busy that you've resorted to online dating. Tinder tells you 'Don't worry. We'll never post anything to Facebook' but you don't believe it. You've tried snake oil before and it tastes fucking disgusting.
After condensing your very essence to its most important features (up to five Facebook photographs, some flippantly 'liked' pages masquerading as 'interests') your profile is ready. Other ready profiles start popping up on your screen like an online menu. Swiping right for a yes or left for a no, you start off analysing each face in turn. What's their story? You click their little square avatar to learn more but all you see is that you both liked Rihanna at some point and that's hardly the basis for a fulfilling relationship, is it?
Pictures become currency and nothing else matters. You hastily rearrange your own Facebook page so as to create a perfect narrative encapsulated by four or five seemingly unrelated photographs. The main one, you suppose, should play it safe: a straight-forward picture in which you look pretty good just to get the bums on seats; the second should be a group shot in which friends/relatives/colleagues look upon you with subtle awe: you need to show that people like you and you're unlikely to be a murderer… At it's essence, everything you do in online dating is supposed to convey a sense that you're almost certainly not a murderer and/or you're also incredibly handsome (someone is eventually bound to risk some light murder if you look SUPER dashing).
Some people, however, just don't care about currency. In a short space of time I saw two baby-scans, several wedding photos and one woman holding what I can only describe as some kind of dead marmot being posted as cover photos. It was like these people didn't even care about me literally judging them at face-value at all.
After the initial conscience, you realise that it all matters very little. You're only going to 'match' with someone if you both click 'yes' on each other's pictures and how likely is it that TWO people will be bothering to look past what's staring them in the face? You start swiping left and right with wanton abandon. Instant regret at a too-hasty ditching of a possible mate? TOO BAD. You have to live with your mistakes on Tinder, this isn't like real life where you can just press Ctrl + Z and undo it. You live fast and for a while you're loving the no-consequences power of being able to almost literally throw someone out the way if you don't think that they're really hot.
For a while it's great: there are so many traditionally hot women and interestingly hot women and women who would totally break your heart into a million pieces on there that, for guys at least, you end up saying 'yes' to a lot more than you thought you would. I do, however, hear that it's not so easy for women, as the amount of decent-looking blokes on there is super low but welcome to the internet, ladies.
If you somehow manage to find a match then you move onto the messaging which, I guess, is like a hard-fought semi-final with the 'final' being a grotty session of meaningless sex in a disabled toilet at an M25 service station because surely that's all that this app is about. No dating site focusing so solely on appearance is ever going amount to much more than 'Grindr for straight people in Clapham'.
The real trouble is that after a while that kind of flippant disregard for anything other than a cracking rack or some top-notch bone structure earns you a kind of fit-fatigue. You forget what you found so attractive in women in the first place: blonde haired women with great legs and brunettes with pixie faces end up slotting into your dating coding like binary.
And nobody wants to fuck a robot, do they?